Good News and Better News … January 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Messiah Lutheran

I arrived early.

Nothing had started popping at Messiah Lutheran.

I was sitting at my book table checking out a few details when I looked across the vestibule and saw the bulletin board pictured above.

My first instinct was to chuckle since I was peering at a snowman while abiding in Panama City, Florida. But I guess because it was Sunday morning and my thoughts had become a bit introspective, I considered the snowman.

It isn’t, you know–a man, I mean.

If you came across a snowman and decided to melt it and free the human being inside, after extensive warming, all you would end up with is a puddle.

There’s nothing within.

It’s an imitation of life–using lumps of coal, a broom, a button, a scarf, a carrot and a top hat.

But it got me wondering if there are frozen people crusted over by the iciness of our culture, who really are more than just snowmen. Is it possible to become so chilled by indifference that you live beneath inches of ice?

Well, I certainly see it in politics.

Freezing out your competition and appearing above the fray, free of fault, seems to be the “call of the wild” in Washington. But I fear if the real heat of pressure and responsibility fell upon any one of them, they would sink into a drippy mess.

How about entertainment?

What could be more hypocritical than a bunch of snowmen in Hollywood who think they are so open-minded and liberal, who make a stand against guns–even as they use pistils, automatic rifles and any number of instruments of mayhem to kill thousands of human beings in their plotlines.

Then there’s religion.

Seems to me that we have sunk to the position of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who spent their time counting cups, cleaning plates and decorating their robes.

Snowmen.

Nothing really left inside–just a cold form of what they once might have looked like.

So as I prepared to share with the folks at Messiah, I was reminded of the sarcastic statement of the angel, speaking to the women who came to the tomb to embalm Jesus: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

I had to ask myself a two-part question:

  • Is my life the pursuit of melting snowmen, only to find there’s nothing really there?
  • Or, under this arctic exterior, are there still living human beings who would like to have joy and abundant life?

The good news is that Messiah lifted my spirits.

Although at first they treated us as strangers, our hearts soon burned within us, taking away the frigid fear.

It was powerful.

It was good.

It was hopeful.

And unlike the snowman on the wall of their bulletin board, what I discovered were human beings suffering from a little hypothermia from being exposed to too much cold. So here’s the better news: We can warm up society and find out where the snowmen are and where the people just need to come in out of the elements.

1. When you see somebody doing a good job and you know they make minimum wage, give them a buck and a word of encouragement for their extra-mile efforts.

2. When you’re in the doctor’s office, instead of pretending to read an out-dated magazine, attempt to strike up a conversation with a nearby human being and see where it takes you.

3. Let “thank you” come off your lips more and more easily.

4. Lead with a smile long before you come face-to-face.

5. Appreciate the small things and be amazed at how the big things begin to take care of themselves.

6. Sit in your quiet, staid church and clap your hands during one of the hymns and see if anyone joins you.

I could go on and on.

Here are two dangers in life: falling under the spell of the deep freeze, or believing that you have no power to thaw it.

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Turning Kids into Humans–Part 3 (Age 1-3) Events … September 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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HumanatingAmazingly, almost sixty to seventy percent of what we learn how to do and apply every day is discovered between the ages of one and three–forming sounds, tactile skills, crawling, walking, making words, constructing sentences, pooping and peeing in a pot and even many of the basic human-family attributes of conscience and manners.

Needless to say, it’s a very important transition.

And it certainly can’t be shoved to the side with an exasperated excuse about “the terrible twos” or “they’re just too young to understand.”

Since we’re trying to initiate a human being into the landscape of Earth instead of just a monkey with too much money, we need to focus on what generates empathy and gratitude into the bosom of the tiny tyke.

It is not sufficient to instruct your little one in the essential nature of empathy (feeling for other people) and gratitude (appreciation for what has been offered) by merely dealing with the activities that transpire in a normal day. Yes, by the time little Johnny is stealing the toy from Kathy during playtime or he has stuffed half a candy bar in his mouth as you plead with him to say thank you, the moment will have passed and you will be left exasperated, swearing to never bring it up again.

It’s why I believe that anointed, intelligent parents plan events which are teaching tools for taking the heart, soul, mind and strength of a toddler into arenas where he or she can discover humanity.

What do I mean?

Make sure you place your child in a position where he or she is around other children who are weaker, in need, impoverished or even infirmed–so that the child you love so dearly can learn to love so dearly.

  • Create an event.
  • Manufacture an opportunity.
  • Make your offspring see that it’s eternally significant to feel for other people.

Likewise, sit down and generate predicaments and possibilities for your child to be grateful.

That does entail a very intricate procedure–it means that sometimes you’ll have to say no, so when a yes does come, it is greeted with glee and appreciation.

If you are under some sort of misguided notion that you want to give everything to your child that he or she desires, you will destroy them for future interactions, making them poor candidates for relationships.

Each and every week, you should have two events planned to spotlight the need for empathy a pair to stimulate gratitude–because if you’re merely relying on the course of human events to teach these valuable lessons, you will lose the potential of your best classroom.

You are the adult. You are the brains of this operation.

So use those brains to take little Johnny or Kathy down to the homeless shelter to see other children who are living without–and bring them a blessing.

It is the old-fashioned common sense of kindness.

And the only reason it’s old-fashioned … is because people have stopped doing it.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Leaning … November 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bad weatherI said yes to life, so here comes no–to give me a chance to prove my point.

The push.

I shove off to achieve and circumstances push back. Now what?

Leaning–either to my own understanding, or trusting God. One makes sense to me and the other sounds really religious. But here’s the problem with my understanding: it is generations and generations and situations and situations, literally screaming at me, “Be careful!”

Now deep in my soul I know that I’ve never been successful while pursuing a path of caution. I haven’t even managed to manipulate a comfortable status quo. After all, the world is filled with tribulation and if you’re not prepared to adjust to the new dilemmas, you will lose ground even if you don’t move one way or the other.

  • My understanding tells me to find a safe path.
  • My understanding reminds me to protect myself.
  • My understanding has a tendency to negate the feelings of others.
  • My understanding generates suspicion which limits my possibilities by removing folks who could be my benefactors.

Trusting God is the step of allowing myself to “be ready.” Ready for what?

  • Ready for change.
  • Ready for adjustment,
  • Ready to use my talents.
  • Ready to recognize opportunity.
  • Ready to completely alter my circumstances if such a maneuver grants me my heart’s desire.

Yes, it comes down to a choice between “be careful” and “be ready.”

Case in point is what happened to me this weekend in Vandalia. I was a little bit frustrated with the circumstances of an engagement that came our way. It was a late-notice arrangement and I was never fully convinced that the venue wanted us to come in the first place. I’m a human being. I want to be loved, I want to be appreciated and I want to be needed. I felt the church had decided to “accommodate” me. I hate that word. I don’t want to be accommodated–I want to be desired.

So because of that, when a storm watch foretold of bad weather on Sunday night, I seized on the opportunity to cancel the date, fully aware that if there were a tornado watch in the air, all of God’s little children would scurry to their basements.

You see, it sounds logical. But actually I was being careful.

Careful about the storm, careful about the audience, and mostly–careful to avoid humiliation by small attendance.

As it turns out, the alleged vicious outpouring from the heavens never materialized and the concert could have been held without interruption.

My leaning was to my own understanding. Rather than being ready to use my talents, abilities and take a chance that things would work out to the good, I decided to be careful. I did it because I was frustrated, cautious and quite honestly, a little lazy.

So the good folks of Vandalia never got a chance to receive what we could share with them.

  • I was tentative
  • I was traditional.
  • I was fussy.
  • I decided to be careful.

And by the way…I was wrong.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

The Power of Nothing… October 14, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Little Brian had not yet learned the power of becoming invisible. He was only seven years old, and that particular piece of youthful wisdom normally arrives around ten or eleven. So he made the mistake one hot summer day of coming into the house, shuffling his feet in the carpet, collapsing on the couch, sprouting a frown, and communicating to his mother that he was bored and devoid of any ideas of how to entertain himself.

This was a big mistake. The young lad was about to lose all of his freedom. Because Mom, wanting to be a good exhorter for her young offspring, began to come up with suggestions about what bored Brian could do to stimulate his mind and body–and at the same time, perform some useful chores around the house. Before he knew it, he had gone from being a liberty-loving youngster to being a room cleaner, a garbage carrier, a dog walker and even, for some ridiculous reason, raking up the dried-up grass his father had mowed the night before. Now he was exhausted and bored. He had failed to understand the power of nothing.

There are days when progress is not made nor is there any particular inclination that devastation and defeat is waiting in the wings to leap on our carcass. People who become dismayed, discouraged, frustrated or pass on the impression that they are without needful activity always get roped into the dumbest jobs possible.

For instance, how would I describe this Saturday in the discovery of my miracle and the restitution of my legs, so I can walk about instead of utilizing the power of the wheel?

Nothing much happened.

I feel a little better; I can straighten up without having a catch in the back of my legs and hips. I told a friend of mine that from the waist up, I’m twenty-five years old and from the belly-button down, I’m about ninety-one. I guess if you average those two numbers, you get my actual age.

So what have I got to complain about? I was trying to remember that old saying. Is it “a watched pot never boils?” Something like that. Sometimes things slow down and they do so in order for us to celebrate, evaluate and appreciate.

If life whirled by at the speed of light, we would not only fail to see it, but we would never get a chance to giggle at the silly moments and revel in the victories.

Celebrate. Just take a few moments of nothingness to celebrate all the goodness that has come thus far. For six decades I’ve been able to live, and in most of those years, be productive, humorous, creative and loved. How remarkable.

Evaluate. Yes, evaluate why, at this point, certain blessings are eluding me, and exercise my good common sense and desire to bring these gifts to me.

Appreciate. Appreciate the fact that no one is running my life, that God has given me choice, and if I am willing to adapt and grow, very likely the best things are yet to come.

Thus the power of nothing.

So when I call someone on the phone and I say, “What’s going on?” and they say, “Nothing,” I think, “You are so lucky.”

I was lucky today. I didn’t get worse. I didn’t get much better. I got a chance to celebrate my past blessings, evaluate some things that I’ve been doing wrong and appreciate a breath of air to insert new opportunity.

Don’t be like Brian. Don’t tell God, Mother Nature or the world around you that you have run out of interest in your own life. People will think they’re helping you by making up really crappy jobs.

I never allow myself to look bored. Instead, I praise God for the power of nothing–just a few minutes every once in a while that plop in my lap–where I have nothing to prove … and everything to gain.

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